Talking To Your Enemies

TALKING TO YOUR ENEMIES….Donald Gregg, National Security Advisor for George H. W. Bush, on North Korea:

Why won’t the Bush administration talk bilaterally and substantively with NK, as the Brits (and eventually the US) did with Libya? Because the Bush administration sees diplomacy as something to be engaged in with another country as a reward for that country’s good behavior. They seem not to see diplomacy as a tool to be used with antagonistic countries or parties, that might bring about an improvement in the behaviour of such entities, and a resolution to the issues that trouble us. Thus we do not talk to Iran, Syria, Hizballah or North Korea. We only talk to our friends ? a huge mistake.

James Baker III said much the same thing yesterday:

?I believe in talking to your enemies,? he said in an interview on the ABC News program ?This Week,? noting that he made 15 trips to Damascus, the Syrian capital, while serving Mr. Bush?s father as secretary of state.

?It?s got to be hard-nosed, it?s got to be determined,? Mr. Baker said. ?You don?t give away anything, but in my view, it?s not appeasement to talk to your enemies.?

Exactly right. Remember that turnaround in Libya that conservatives like to say was a result of the invasion of Iraq and George Bush’s hardnosed foreign policy? Donald Gregg is right: it was negotiation that did the trick, not threats. You can read the whole story in “The Tyrant Who Came In From the Cold,” a piece from our October issue based on excerpts from Ron Suskind’s The One Percent Doctrine. It’s eye opening.